Nicole Yvonne Jeans, 37, of New Prague, was charged with felony firearm theft, burglary in the second degree, felony theft and felony check forgery in an alleged scheme to steal and sell an assortment of firearms.

Jeans became the subject of an investigation after property owners reported to police on July 24 that a metal storage unit on their property in rural Le Sueur County was robbed.

The owners reportedly observed that the lock and latch system was cut and several items were missing, including a Ruger .22 caliber rifle, an Avalanche wooden crossbow, multiple boxes containing thousands of rounds of ammunition, 10 20 round magazines, three Colt 45 magazines and a wooden grenade box. The stolen items amounted to an estimated loss of $2,200.

According to the complaint, physical evidence from the scene showed that the back door of the home was forced open, leaving the wood frame damaged. There were several boxes that had been rummaged through and the internet router was torn off the wall and found in the yard. After contacting Frontier Communications, police learned that the internet was disrupted at 8:15 a.m. on July 20.

Also at the scene of the crime were 10 Wells Fargo checks, totaling $2,600, that were later determined to be forgeries. Five of the checks were paid to the order of Jeans, one to B’s Barn Door in Waterville and three to Common Thread in Waterville. All of the checks paid to the order of Jeans were cashed at Frandsen Bank in Waterville.

On July 28, one of the property owners reportedly found a purse that held several items with Jeans’ name on them, including four credit cards and a receipt, along with a checkbook in the name of the property owners and keys to an unknown vehicle.

Through store surveillance video, police observed a blonde woman wearing a face mask with tattoos on both arms and a purse that appeared to match the one collected by police. A man in a face mask and cowboy hat was also seen accompanying the woman in the video.

According to the complaint, upon reviewing the Dollar General receipt and surveillance video of the purchase, police determined that the purchase was made with a credit card in Jeans’ name and a check stolen from the property owners. They identified the woman in the surveillance video as Jeans, who had previous encounters with police.

Police also investigated a Minnesota State Lottery receipt from Casey’s General Store, and in reviewing the footage, police reportedly identified Jeans driving a Lincoln SUV to the store with a male companion and purchasing the lottery ticket.

When police arrived at Jeans’ residence after obtaining a search warrant, they found a matching Lincoln SUV at the home. After knocking at the door and receiving no response, police entered the residence and told Jeans they had a search warrant for stolen property. Jeans reportedly told the officers that none of the stolen items in the warrant were at her house.

In an interview with police, Jeans reportedly admitted to the theft and forgeries. The interview summary states that Jeans told police that she and another individual used his truck to pull the lock off the storage unit and she raided the storage unit while the other person entered the house. Jeans told police that the other person gave her the checks and a credit card, while he took and sold the weapons, ammunition and magazines. She reportedly said she wrote the checks to herself to deposit money in her account and make purchases because she was “poor and needed things.”

Reach Reporter Carson Hughes at 507-931-8575. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All Rights Reserved.

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